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Have you been thinking about driving those big rigs? 
This is an information page for what new drivers should look for to start a career in this industry.

Need to get to work, after training?  The benefit of going to a carrier for training vs a school  Ideally, if a carrier is going to train you, well they will be offering you a driving career afterwards.  A school will only give you enough information & training to pass the state test, but do little to guarantee you a driving career.  Most companies have contracts, but if you drive for them after training, you can satisfy not having to pay them back.  They will waive those training fees or you only need to pay a small amount.

Learning is just the beginning

Side of a trailer

First and foremost, you have to have a good driving record as well as

  • No drug, sexual or theft convictions within the last 10 years

You must provide up to a 3 year employment history; including company name, your title-duties, address, phone number and contact person.

Some companies if you do have accidents, you must provide accident report/insurance claim on all accidents that show on MVR in the last 3 year

Let's check to see who is 

hiring in your area

USA map

You will either train driving in the snow, or by the time it snows, you will have better skills to operate your equipment.   

Snowy highway

What will you be trained on?  

In the classroom:

  • Administrative check-in & paperwork

  • DOT physical & drug screen [You must pass both to be able to continue]

  • Safety procedures

  • Mechanical operations

  • Laws & rules of the road

  • Log requirements

  • Federal rules & regulations as well as state laws, etc.

  • Hazmat training & videos

  • and more

In the truck training:

  • Properly Turn & Back Up & loads of yard time honing your skills

  • Driving in city, highway & construction, truck stop and rest areas.

  • Pre-trip inspection; tractor & trailer

  • and more

You essentially become a paid tourist.  Criss-crossing across the USA seeing places that you have never seen before!!

Mountains, big cities, little one-horse towns, and so much more!


Driving in traffic takes a lot of skill, because you have to be looking out for any potential hazard.  You have to be able to maintain control of your truck as well as be able to spot other drivers having an issue and avoiding them!  

Here is a tip:  Learn to check your mirrors constantly!!

How to make sense of all the different opportunities in driving a big rig.

OVER-THE-ROAD, also known as OTR or long-haul drivers:

OTR is essentially you will be gone from home a minimum of two or more weeks a month.  Some drivers stay out up to 6 months before returning home.  This is perfect for an individual that doesn't have anything requiring him/her to be home.  These drivers choose this lifestyle and will take their breaks out on-the-road and/or even try to schedule a little vacation time in an area where they can sight-see. For instance; a beach, or Las Vegas.  This is typically where you will make the most money and if you're a safe dependable driver, this job is more in need.  Companies like drivers that want to stay out and move their freight.  Typically you can see a salary of $40k plus in this category.  The more miles that you can log while doing this, the higher your pay.  Companies will typically pay more with years of experience and/or number of miles accumulated.  You are typically paid a set amount per mile and the more miles that you turn in for the week is what you would get paid for minus any expenses.  


Regional driving usually involves a certain region that you will be traveling, such as only Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest or West.  The map above will kind of give you an idea of the regions in which trucks may run their freight.  The company that you might be interested in may only do a 3-4-6 state regional driving area.  Depending on the company, they only may run fleets in certain areas and you must live in those areas to get home on a regular basis.  For instance, if you live in Ohio and you apply to a company that does Northwest only, chances are they will have difficulty getting you home and will not approve your application.  So, when applying for those positions, please make sure that you're looking in the right area, if hometime is important to you.  Regional positions you are normally home 2-3 weekends a month and maybe 1-2 days per week.  Some companies you might be home every weekend and other companies you may not have two weekends off in a row.  It really depends on the company's freight moving lanes and where you live in those lanes.  You are typically still paid per mile but you won't run as many miles like you can see in an OTR position and you will probably have numerous pickups and/or dropoffs which all require time to load or unload.  Typical yearly salary is anywhere from $40-65k.


Most everyone wants to be able to drive local to be home with their families and not miss important dates, etc.  Typically, you really need to have a minimum of 1-2 years of experience prior to considering local driving.  Why??  More traffic, more parked cars, narrow streets can all be nerve-wracking for a new cdl driver.  Your pay will be significantly reduced than what you made, if you drove OTR, but you'd be home daily or every other day depending on company needs/routes.  You will however, will typically load and unload your freight with or without the use of a pallet jack.  You typically can still make several trips in one day depending on how far your pickup/delivery is from your terminal. You may have different start and ending times and more local positions that are open more frequently are the ones between 11 pm - 7 am.  The pay is typically not based on miles or the particular route, it is based on hourly pay.  Typical pay could range from $16-$26/hr; but it depends on a lot of factors. Such as freight being hauled, number of pickups and deliveries, the driver's experience level, and more.  Some drivers will take the cut in pay to have a better work/life ratio.


Starting out it is ideal that you only be a company driver.  The reasons are you don't have to fix your truck when needing repair, you don't have to pay for any maintenance that you need for the truck as well as any lightbulbs, etc.  You don't have to find loads, or carry insurance for equipment and cargo. You don't have to pay the highway taxes and more reasons.  Most companies offer benefits including insurance, some holiday pay, unload pay*, 401k, vacation pay, and bonuses.  You are usually paid for all miles; empty or loaded including any deadhead miles. [empty moving of equipment without a load].  The company may be also offering a sign-on bonus.  Essentially, it takes all the guesswork out of driving. You get hired, you do all your paperwork as a company driver in orientation, go for your CDL physical and drug screen, get hired, get assigned your dispatcher, and pick up any necessary equipment to do your job and meet any important personnel along with their contact information.  You are assigned a truck, you move into your truck, and it's up to your dispatcher/fleet planner to get you on the road in whatever direction you are wanting to go.  Perhaps you need to get home to get the rest of your gear, then they should be routing you to the house for a few hours to a day, so you can get your stuff and moved in.  

OWNER-OPERATOR also known as Owner/Op:

 In this position, you are either signing a lease agreement or you are buying your truck from a broker/sales dealership.  You are responsible for all costs involved with purchasing, leasing on with a company, highway and other taxes, essentially you assume all risks and responsibilites of this business venture. A business venture is exactly what you have to treat this like.  You should have some experience with running your own business and saving money, or your business may not succeed.  As an owner/op you would be able to set your own price/mile that you would be willing to haul the broker's freight for, however, that broker also may have a cents per mile [cpm] that they are only willing to pay.  So then you have to decide whether you will be able to haul that freight down the road at their cpm in order for you to make a profit AFTER you take out your fuel and other expenses associated with the load.  This can be a very rewarding career move, however, if you aren't good with money this is ideally NOT the best place to start.  It is suggested that you have one-two years of company driving; moreso 4-5 years of company driving under your "belt" before you think about purchasing your own company.  It is also suggested that you do a lot of research and have lots of money saved up for those extenuating circumstances, repairs/breakdowns, or unexpected expenditures that you may need to be paying out.  Some drivers end up operating in the red [not making a profit] before actually operating in the black [profit].  This is not to deter you from doing this, it is to make sure that you are prepared.


Under the Company driver section, I mentioned unload pay.  Most company drivers will pay a lumper to "lump" off their load; which means unload and they are paid whatever the lumping company says they will take it off for.  You will find big grocery store chains will use a lumping service a lot since they don't have to have the added cost of employing people.  Most companies will not pay their drivers the same amount, but they would pay you something.  It has been noted in several readings, that usually it's easier on the driver to just have the lumping company pull the load off and pay them with the company funds, then it is for the driver to do the work and get paid very little.  Especially, if the load needs to be re-worked or re-stacked depending on the product.  Some unloading may be called "Tailgating".  Tailgating is where the driver will move the freight to the rear of the trailer and then the lumping service or employees will pull the freight/product off the trailer.  This is such the case with file cabinets or plants.  You really can't get a forklift in the trailer to pull those items off, so it's easier to move them by hand to the rear of the trailer.  You can turn in your time for unloading, but it's really up to your dispatcher if it's been approved to pay for that.

Truck drivers should take a break from the driving and allow the lumping service/employees to unload the freight because that is the job that you were given to do and get paid for.  Always have the company pay for the lumping service and they do that via a comchek or a t-chek.  You must give them certain information and your dispatcher will inform you of what you need from the lumping service in order to be reimbursed and make sure that you receive a receipt BEFORE you pull away from the dock with that information on it.  You must turn in that receipt with your Bills of Lading [BOL], so that they will not take that money out of your check.


Recent grads and ones that want to attend CDL school!! ....I know a lot of you have graduated and now you are looking for that dream local job, working days and off weekends. Some of you may even have a felony record. First off, I'm not a know-it-all, I'm just a former driver of 17 over the road solo years and I just thought I would help you all out with what NOT to expect. If you want local, it's going to be with a beverage company or maybe a food service delivery (Performance Food Service, Rhinehart Food Service, etc) But those aren't even guaranteed, it will all depend on the companies requirements. I see a lot of you here repeatedly ask the same questions and this is why I am posting this. Keep this in mind..."You gotta crawl before you walk" and this means 95% of you will have to go with a trainer for 4-6 weeks over the road before you can even think about that gravy job. Seasoned experienced drivers all had to do it, unless you are old school and drove in the 80's and 90's when things were ohhhh so different.I'm not trying to be bossy or anything like that, but I just thought I would help you all out a little on your questions. Now, with felonies..first, it depends on the felony. There are very few companies (and you need to search for those) that will hire a felon that is less than 5 years old (some 3 if you are lucky). Companies go by 3, 5, 7, 10 years. Keep that in mind when looking. Companies for the most part will not hire any violent crime charges, any gun type charges (armed robbery, etc.) sale of any type of drugs (some will consider possession, manslaughter and anything to do with children or rape. There are others, but these are the ones I can think of at the moment. Do your homework because believe me, these schools will not tell you any of this. Like I said, there are a few (and very few) companies that will hire you with a felony 3 years and below, but you gotta research deep. Then there are companies like Carolina Cargo that will hire anyone...all I can say there is DON'T DO IT.

DISCLAIMER:  We do not reveal the name of the company in our ads per our contracts, if you want to know more and you are seriously interested you can fill out the form on the main page, or call the number listed. Thank you for understanding!

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